Harvest time is close for local farmers and producers. This happens to be National Farm Safety Week.

It’s a chance to promote the safety and well being of those out on the farm.

Crops and equipment aren’t immune to fire hazards.

“On September 26, 2016, it was just like any other day. I got done with my field work, went into my mom’s house to say goodbye and that’s when i saw it,” Linsey Tobin said. “The thick, black smoke just consumed the air, and I knew it right away, I knew it was my dad. Not knowing what you’re coming into, is he going to be dead? Is he alive? Did he make it out of there? That’s the scariest part. When I started to pull out of the driveway, that’s when I saw him barreling south down the gravel road, and it was instant relief, thank god, he was lucky. He was very lucky.”

“Grain dust is not super flammable but it’s very explosive, mixed in the right atmosphere and that little spark can make it go boom and when that happens then that stuff around it can catch fire, whether it be the belts or the grease and fuel on the combine or something from the engine compartment,” Eldridge Fire Chief Keith Schneckloth said.

Dust and debris can build up very quickly, especially in dry conditions. Schneckloth strongly recommends blowing out the debris daily if not more. He adds it’s important to have multiple fire extinguishers in and around the equipment.

“When you look at that fire, and you say, ‘Can I put out this fire with one fire extinguisher?’ and the answer in your head is no, then it’s time to get away and get those resources. I strongly encourage farmers to have a piece of tillage equipment lined up in the fall and hooked up and ready to go in the event something does happen.”

Large engine fires cause apporoximately $20 million in property losses each year. Tilling around the fire not only keeps it contained until rescue personnel arrive–but can also save the rest of the crop in the field.

“Being a farmer as well, I know a lot of people in the surrounding area, and when you hear that address even, you can almost put it in your head already of who it’s going to be,” Schneckloth said. “The adrenaline factor kicks in, it’s a you gotta go because you gotta save neighbor a, b, or c or help out neighbor a, b, or c and it’s a difficult thing to try to go and try to put on a different hat and go there as a rescuer vs. a friendly neighbor.”

Farmers have a long tradition of quickly responding to their neighbors in need. A true testament to their communities.